Breaking The Rules
13 Uncommon Ways to Live a Less Distracted Life
Creating these boundaries will help you focus
We all lead crazy, busy lives. What’s new is that technology creates so many distractions that most of us feel like we have ADHD. While technology is amazing in that it makes communicating with your partner who just changed the Netflix password amazingly simple, but it also creates thousands of daily diversions that suck time and slow your productivity. According to one study, the average person spends 13 hours a week just checking their emails! In fact, I believe it’s exactly this paradox–of more efficient systems combined with more distractions–that confuses our brains into believing we can accomplish more.
What I also know is that a combination of self discipline and training others around us (that means your kids, too) not to expect us to be “on call” 24/7, can boost productivity and control.
Here are my life-learned ways minimize distraction.
- Check email just three times a day and never open your browser while doing it; this will keep you from surfing.
- Answer emails twice a day. Let’s be honest: most people you know don’t need a four hour response time! Save that for your boss and your 15 year old.
- Stand while checking your email or looking something up. It will make it easier to walk away.
- Set up your email notifications to filter for ones you designate as important (like those from your boss or your kid’s school).
- Set an alarm on your phone to remind you that now is the ideal moment to accomplish a certain task. Make that call you have prioritized! Just do it.
- Be realistic about the number of accomplishments you can squeeze into a single day: reality dictates most people can only finish three major things or 10 tiny ones. Ask yourself, “did I finish the three major ones yet?” Focus your efforts and your priorities there. If you don’t feel like being productive, be proactive and reschedule.
- Logic dictates that whomever is handing you a paycheck deserves your attention. If you work from home or spend time online for your job, stick to the priorities for your job. Don’t steal time from the company to watch a cat video or shop. Ask yourself: is that who I really want to be?
- Learn to say no to people outside your inner circle and yes to your loved ones. It creates instant prioritization.
- Don’t be available 24/7. Establish phone and text hours and train those around you to respect them. Tell your friends, or anyone with whom you like to chat, that the only time you can talk is say, from 8-9 AM or 4-5 PM.
- Create boundaries–not to keep people out–but to keep yourself on task. For example, if you walk for exercise, use that time on the phone to catch up with friends or podcasts. Don’t talk to them or listen to entertainment during your work day–especially if you work from home.
- Skip social media and schedule activities with friends–in person. Make them “active” friendships.
- Get your sleep. Pretend going to bed is like making an international flight: hustle to get there! Create a fixed bedtime and stick to it.
- Behave like an adult; own your life. Don’t blame distraction for not getting things done.
Karen Harrow is the creator of harrowstyle.com for all things “design, fashion, food, and ideas for living well.”
How Much Do You Lie on Social Media? (July 2018)
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